How to Craft a Sermon

By: Rick Warren

Whose life is God getting ready to radically change?

Whose marriage is in need of transformation?

Who’s in your church is about to walk through a life altering crisis?

Pastor, you have the opportunity to speak into and shepherd the people in your church through every one of these situations. Your weekend message has the power to encourage, equip, heal, and guide your people through some of the most joyous and tumultuous events in life. We can all agree, our teaching/preaching is about growing people to become more like Christ. Using the CRAFT method for your sermon prep will help to keep you focused with a clear end goal in mind…CHANGED LIVES!

C – Collect & Compare

Start by asking the question, “What has God said about this topic?” Collect and examine what God has said about this particular topic. Gather verses, illustrations, articles, sermons, Bible study notes, quiet time reflections—everything.

Categorize what you collect. Begin to look for similarities between verses. Then group them together by topic.

R – Research & Reflect

Research and study the Scripture. Ask two questions: What does it say? What does it mean? As you know, the serious study of any text involves studying the historical background of the text, looking at the text’s literary style, grammatical structure, the theological framework—all needs to be done in this stage.

Now the most important part. Reflect on what God is saying to you through the Scripture you’ve studied. This is critical as it’s where you get the personal application. Meditate on the text and let it filter through your mind. Do this in your quiet time and study time. Reflect while driving, doing yard work, or exercising. I simply focus your thoughts on what God says in the Scriptures.

A – Apply & Arrange

Once you’ve reflected on God’s Word, Apply it to your life and your church. Look for personal and corporate applications. How can your church apply what the Bible says altogether? You’re called to shepherd individuals and the entire church body.

Then Arrange your sermon for maximum impact so there’s tension, release, and movement. You’re preaching to persuade. You don’t need to arrange your points in the order they’re in the text. You should order your points in the way your listeners will hear the message.

F – Fashion & Flavor

Next Fashion your words. As a preacher, you need to become a wordsmith. Focus close attention on the specific words you use. Instead of preaching “five things” about a text or a topic, you preach about the five benefits, five features, or five marks. Put action verbs in your points. Each word in your sermon matters.

Flavor your sermons with illustrations, quotes, humor, video clips, and so on. Take your people on an experiential journey, not through a dark 30-40 minute tunnel. Add flavor that keeps your listeners’ attention throughout.

T – Trim & Tie Together

Now it’s time to Trim. Edit out the unnecessary material. If you can say something in seven words, don’t take 20. Effective trimming is a major separator between good and great sermons. A great sermon has been trimmed to a point where there’s no fat. Every statement is solid and lean.  You don’t have any filler or excess when you’re done trimming.

Finally, Tie transitions to the purpose. Try to use category words in these transitions. For example, “the second characteristic,” “the third benefit,” “the fourth challenge,” and so on. Transitions are easy if you hand out an outline. It’ll make what’s next more obvious for your listeners.

No sermon preparation method will lead to changed lives without God’s power. Second Timothy 2:15 summarizes my approach. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (NIV).

Do the best you can to CRAFT an effective message. Then trust God to do what only He can do while you’re in the pulpit.

 

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About the Author
Rick Warren
Purpose Driven is a framework to help you structure your church around the purposes of God. These stories aim to inspire and better equip leaders, make disciples, and help transform the world.
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